Goldman deal above board, Greece says
Athens says details of debt swaps will be sent to EU
ATHENS - Greece says a complex debt deal with investment bank Goldman Sachs that has come under scrutiny by the European Union was above board, and will be explained in a letter being sent by the finance minister to the European Union.
The EU’s top economy official, Olli Rehn, gave the Greek government until today to supply answers on how it used transactions known as currency swaps and how that affected the country’s debt and deficit figures.
Athens insists the 2001 Goldman Sachs deal was legal and complied with EU regulations at the time.
“There will be a response. There is a letter by the finance minister,’’ government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis said.
George Papaconstantinou’s letter “will analyze the compatibility of those acts with EU regulations and [say] there is no problem, and that other countries have also carried out equivalent actions exactly because Eurostat accepted this until a certain time,’’ Petalotis said, referring to the EU statistics agency.
Athens insists that it stopped using the practice when the Eurostat rules changed.
The EU can take Greece to court, under threat of daily fines, to change its statistics methods. It is already threatening legal action for Greece’s failure to report accurate public finance figures last year.
French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said Eurostat was looking into “how a merchant bank, in this case Goldman Sachs, helped Greece structure, postpone a certain number of debt repayments.’’
Asked whether the bank had broken rules, the minister said: “That is the question that we have to ask ourselves and to which we need the answer. And I don’t have that answer today.’’